Two states are expected to decide on
whether to grant gay couples the right to marry before the end of the
year, but gay marriage proponents are thoroughly sanguine about the
District of Columbia, where passage of Council member David Catania's
gay marriage bill is expected to win approval on December 1.
Enthusiasm for gay marriage appears to
be on the wane in New York and New Jersey after Mainers repealed a
gay marriage law approved by lawmakers in the spring. Numerous New
Jersey Democratic senators have expressed concern that now is not the
time, while the New York Senate continues to delay action on a bill.
But the political consensus driving gay
marriage in the District endures despite numerous attacks. City
leaders have remained united on the bill, which is expected to win
approval along a 10 to 2 vote at Tuesday's meeting.
Few roadblocks to passage remain. The
District is under the control of Congress, which could overturn the
law, but action appears unlikely. Congress remained silent after
lawmakers approved a gay marriage-recognition law in the spring and
promised to legalize gay marriage.
Still, the National Organization for
Marriage (NOM), the nation's most vociferous opponent of gay
marriage, has said it would apply pressure on Capitol Hill to move
against the bill. However,
Brian Brown, executive director of NOM, conceded to the Washington
“It's a difficult thing for Congress to actually overturn a law in
Passage of the first law, which
recognizes the marriages of gay couples so long as they are willing
to marry in one of the nearby states that recognize gay marriage,
attracted a heated protest that has yet to abate.
Bishop Harry Jackson, a minister at the
Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Maryland, formed
Stand4MarriageDC.com to stop the gay marriage-recognition law from
taking effect. The group was rebuffed by the city's Ethics Board,
which ruled such a measure would violate the city's Human Rights Act
that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. The group
is currently appealing a second Ethics Board ruling against placing a
referendum on gay marriage on the ballot.
The proposal is also opposed by the
Catholic Archdiocese of Washington. While the bill would not require
religious organizations to perform gay weddings, the church has
threatened to shut off programs serving the poor and homeless if the
city does not include an exclusion that would allow individuals,
including private business owners, to refuse to provide goods and
services related to the nuptials of gay couples. Gay activists
accused the church of trying to “blackmail the city.”
Such tactics, however, have failed to
derail the bill. And they might have helped rebuild momentum in New
Jersey and New York, where lawmakers remain spooked over November's
loss in Maine, by increasing the profile of Tuesday's vote.